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Bauhaus in Berlin

The Bauhaus was established in Weimar around a century ago, but Berlin also bears the hallmarks of its revolutionary designers. Here are some of the best places in the German capital for fans of the Bauhaus-style to find inspiration.

Alongside Dessau and Weimar, Berlin is also set to host celebrations to mark the Bauhaus centenary in 2019. The most obvious first port of call in Berlin for all fans of the era is the Bauhaus Archiv/ Museum für Gestaltung at Reichpietschufer (Klingelhöferstr. 14, see above; © visitBerlin, photo credit: Philip Koschel' ). It proclaims itself to be the most comprehensive collection of Bauhaus art and design in the world (see below: Children's chair by Marcel Breuer dating from 1924 from the Bauhaus Collection © Bauhaus Archiv Berlin, photo credit: Fotostudio Bartsch), with an exhibition that tells the story of that influential college of architecture, design and art, its various workshops and products.

Mies van der Rohe in the capital

Barely a kilometer from the Bauhaus-Archiv stands another important architectural monument of the classic modern age: the Neue Nationalgalerie by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (see above: Neue Nationalgalerie © photo credit: Judith Jenner) . Not many people know that the architect had designed very similar plans for the headquarters of rum-producer, Barcardi, in Santiago de Cuba, which was never actually built, as well as for a museum in Schweinfurt. Set to a considerably larger scale, he was finally able to see his design realized in Berlin. Since it opened in 1968, this museum with its light-flooded main hall has exhibited countless great works of 20th century art. The museum is currently closed for extensive refurbishment.

Discover Bauhaus on a bike-tour with headphones

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was the director of the Bauhaus from 1930. Under his direction, the Bauhaus relocated to an old factory building in Steglitz, Berlin, for a brief period from October 1932 to July 1933, shortly before its closure. The building was demolished in 1974. However, several private homes dating from the Bauhaus-period can be viewed in the south-west of the city, albeit only from the outside. An audio-tour (see above: Audio tour around Zehlendorf © Haus am Waldsee)takes visitors from the Haus am Waldsee at Argentinische Allee 30 along a route peppered with architectural jewels. Equipped with a bike and an audio-player, the 90-minute tour allows visitors to explore this architecturally illustrious neighborhood. The text, compiled by the director of the Haus am Waldsee, Katja Blomberg, shows visitors that Bauhaus doesn't necessarily have to mean a flat-topped roof and whitewashed façade. Between 1907 and 1930 - a time when bay windows and gabled roofs were en vogue - architects like Ludwig Mies von der Rohe, Werner Gropius, Hermann Muthesius and Peter Behrens built numerous villas in Zehlendorf in the English country house style. There are, of course, several examples of more functional cube architecture, like that at Beerenstraße 64, not far from the Mexikoplatz S-bahn station. With its ultra-modern look, it's hard to believe that this structure, built by Arthur Korn and Siegfried Weitzmann in 1928 will soon turn 90. Another audio guide leads through the Bruno-Taut housing estate, Onkel Toms Hütte.

Modern art in a Mies van der Rohe building

At the opposite end of the city, in Lichtenberg, stands another iconic example of Bauhaus-architecture. In 1932/33, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe built "Landhaus Lemke" for printing company owner, Karl Lemke. Its simple, functional design focuses on the essential, with oversized windows providing fantastic views of the Obersee lake. However, the owners were only able to enjoy these inspiring surroundings for a brief time before the Red Army seized the building in 1945, to be used as a garage. In the 1960s, it served the state security service of the GDR, the Stasi, at times as a caretaker's apartment, at others as laundry storage. Not until 1977 was it given historic monument status by the municipal administration of East Berlin. Today, it is owned by the municipal authorities of Lichtenberg. Both the house and the garden grounds have been restored according to original plans and now serve as an exhibition venue for works inspired by the site. The majority of the furniture specially designed by Mies van der Rohe for Landhaus Lemke now forms part of the collection on display at the Kunstgewerbemuseum (Museum of Decorative Arts) in Berlin.

Hidden gems

There are also many, less spectacular Bauhaus-era buildings that influence the architectural face of the city to the present day. The "Garagenpalast" at Kantstraße 126/27 in Charlottenburg, for example, is a real insider's tip. This multi-story car-park dating from 1930 has space for 300 vehicles. It is still in use, but there are plans to demolish it due to its dilapidated condition. A stroll through the residential schemes designed by prominent Bauhaus members, such as the Siemensstadt housing estate in North-Charlottenburg (see above: Siemensstadt housing estate © photo credit: Judith Jenner), is also well worthwhile. Walter Gropius, among others, was involved in the planning and design of this residential scheme, with Martin Wagner and Hans Scharoun responsible for overall design and planning. With its multi-story block architecture and numerous green areas, it was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in July 2008 as a prime example of a "Berlin Modernist Housing Estate".  All of this means that Berlin is the perfect place to explore the multifaceted and far-reaching influence of the Bauhaus and its designs.

Images:

01 Bauhausarchiv © visitBerlin, photo credit: Philip Koschel'
02 Children's chair by Marcel Breuer dating from 1924 from the Bauhaus Collection © Bauhaus Archiv Berlin, photo credit: Fotostudio Bartsch
03 Neue Nationalgalerie © photo credit: Judith Jenner
04 Audio tour around Zehlendorf © Haus am Waldsee
05 Siemensstadt housing estate © photo credit: Judith Jenner